Archive for Saturday, June 26, 2004

Witnesses credit police for keeping cool in confronting sword-wielding suspect

June 26, 2004


A North Lawrence man swung a 4-foot sword at neighbors and police officers Friday afternoon along the street near his home at the intersection of Fifth and Minnesota streets, witnesses said.

Police officers eventually tackled and subdued the 53-year-old man with pepper spray, but no one was seriously injured, witnesses said. Neighbors who saw the incident say the man was lucky that police used restraint.

"I think they did great," said Paul Bhatia, 25.

"I thought they were going to shoot him," said Skylor Jessee, 23.

Shortly before 4 p.m., Bhatia and Piero Eugster, both Kansas University students, were hanging out on the front porch of their home on Fifth Street just east of Minnesota Street. Their front porch faces south, toward a grassy area that some neighbors said was part of the suspect's yard.

Eugster said he was minding his own business when the man crossed the street, walked into his driveway, and began swinging a samurai sword and threatening him.

Eventually, the man walked back across Fifth Street into the grassy yard. When police arrived, the man walked toward them with the sword raised, witnesses said.

"They told him to put the sword down 20 times, but he didn't," Eugster said.

Jessee said he saw the man crouch and wave the sword as at least two officers with guns drawn stood about 6 feet in front of him.

Eventually, the man lowered the sword and walked south across the lawn and toward his home, witnesses said. Police followed the man and subdued him there.

Eugster said one officer was sprayed with pepper spray as the officers tried to tackle the man. Witnesses said about 12 police cars were at the scene and that the man was taken away in a special prisoner-transport vehicle.

The man was booked into Douglas County Jail at 4:46 p.m. on counts of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property.

He remained in jail Friday night on $2,500 bond.

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